1866: Dr. George Culver Palmer to Dr. Alonzo A. Palmer

Michigan Asylum for the Insane, Kalamazoo

This letter was written by George Culver Palmer (1839-1894), a son of Abel Palmer (1801-1872) and Sarah Main (1816-1866). Dr. Palmer prepared for Brown University at the Connecticut Literary Institute at Suffield, but subsequently changing his plans entered the University of Michigan in 1860, where he spent one year, subsequently entering the medical department and graduating therefrom in 1864. Immediately afterward he received an appointment in the Asylum for the Insane at Kalamazoo. There he served as assistant physician until 1872, and as assistant medical superintendent for the following six years. In 1878 he was elected medical superintendent, which position he occupied until 1891, when he resigned to assume the duties of medical director of Oak Grove. Although his contributions to medical literature are not numerous, he was a vigorous, forceful and persuasive writer. He distrusted his ability to write and once remarked that “some people write for fame but I because I must.” The satisfactory development of the colony system in Michigan was largely due to his efforts, and the opponents of state care of the insane found in him a determined, steadfast and earnest adversary.

Dr. Palmer wrote this letter to his older brother, Dr. Alonzo A. Palmer (1836-1866), who was quite ill at the time and died less than a month later on 13 December 1866. Alonzo practiced medicine for a time in Ohio and in Rhode Island before returning to his boyhood home with terminal illness. He died unmarried.

George, his brother Alonzo, and their parents are all buried in the Chapman Hill Cemetery in North Stonington, Connecticut.

Stamped Letter



Addressed to Dr. Alonzo A. Palmer, Pendleton Hill, Connecticut

Michigan Asylum for the Insane
Kalamazoo [Michigan]
November 18, 1866

Dear Son:

Yours of the 11th inst. is received. I was glad to hear that you [were] comfortable though regret that you take cold so easy. Are you dressed in flannel wrappers & drawers? If not, don’t fail to supply yourself immediately & then go out doors every day. Excuse no economy in relation to your own comfort for I am willing to send you all my salary if necessary.

I have made inquiries in relation to your wine but you don’t mention it, I don’t want to force it on you but it seems to me that a rich diet & wine are the best remedies for you.

I am in my usual good health & hoping to hear good from you. I remain yours &c.

— G. C. Palmer

Michigan Asylum for the Insane at Kalamazoo


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